Last night we started our India trip. In short, the travel went about as smoothly as we could hope. We traveled with Swiss Air, and went Chicago -> Zurich -> Mumbai. We didn’t have any brutal layovers, no delays, no baggage problems. The food was pretty good on the flights (we had FOUR meals).
I managed to stay up most of the time, Lindsay slept a decent chunk. My hope (and I had thought I had succeeded) was that I’d avoid most of the jet lag if I was just really tired when I arrived.
When we got to Mumbai, we could right away feel the heat and humidity. Normally when you walk into an airport you automatically feel the cool, crisp, sterile and filtered air and I love that feeling. In Mumbai, we both swear you could smell spices. The air while cooler, felt humid and perhaps a bit dank. And the walls were all wooden panels and the floor was I’d say an Indian print. Basically, coming into the airport it already felt like we were in a different place.
I had read that there were prepaid taxi stands at the International Airport, and more specifically told that there were two sets of taxi stands. One taxi stand was run by private companies (generally more expensive), and one set was run by the government. Of course neither is clearly marked as such, and we were told originally that the non-government taxi stand was the government taxi stand. Pretty standard stuff I’d say. We had an idea of what to look for though, so we ended up going outside and asking a security guard who pointed us in the wrong feeling, but actually right direction.
580 rupees was the cost, and that got us a ~1 hour taxi ride South to Fort, which is an area within Mumbai.
And here is the crux of this blog post: driving through Mumbai at night after being very tired and having not really been around such a place in a while was a crazy, crazy experience. Much of this we’ve experienced before, such as the multiple near-death experiences we had. But, it’s difficult to explain just how insane things seemed. Men, primarily, everywhere on the sides of the streets standing around chatting. Piles of garbage (and when I say piles, I mean hills), complete with large sleeping cows and foraging wild dog. What appeared to be multiple (10? 20?) carnival type lighting situations (think bright, blinking, festive looking christmas lights) that I think may have been temple/shrines. Honestly, it’s just really difficult to explain. But, to be honest and not totally positive, I think both Lindsay and I were overwhelmed. Are over whelmed.
Our plan was to stay in Mumbai for two days then head off somewhere else, but when we were driving I said to Lindsay, “I think we might need a few more then two days to acclimate.” One thing that I think we’ll have to get comfortable with is the lack of females. There were by FAR more guys out last night walking around, and very few females. I want to make sure we’re safe, so it might be just that at night we don’t go out as much, at least not until we get a better feel for what’s safe, what’s not safe, etc.
After we got to our hotel/guest house (expensive, though relatively cheap for Mumbai I’m told, at ~30 bucks a night) we took showers, and went to bed. Somehow, I fell right asleep, but then woke up at 4:25am and couldn’t get back to sleep until almost 6am. This was, literally and figuratively, a dark time for me. Feeling both hot and cold (we have AC in this room which is incredibly loud), and wishing I was under a “real” blanket (as apposed to my silk sheet bed liner), thinking about the chaos that is just outside my door, and the fact that in the morning I was going to have to go back outside and face all of that. I knew that in the morning with some rest I’d feel better and more positive, but at 5 am that didn’t matter much.
But, sure enough, this morning I feel better. It was very nice to be able to talk with Lindsay. I’m very happy to be traveling with her. Full disclosure: I have yet to leave the room yet and it’s almost 2pm! We ended up sleeping in until 12:30, then took some time to organize our packs, get our money situated, and now Lindsay is reading up on Mumbai while I type this up.
By the way, Happy Birthday Brittany!
OK, off for now, time to start the first day in India.
p.s. The reason I Sai this is different than Bangkok, is because I don’t remember feeling like there was just SO MUCH “stuff” everywhere in Bangkok. It felt a bit more like a “normal” city when we arrived, the driving aside.